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  • Joseph Eastman: Gastric Cancer Survivor

  • Transforming Despair Into Hope

    Joe Eastman

    Joseph Eastman is a young-at-heart 71-year-old receiving treatment at The Comprehensive Cancer Center. Prior to his treatment at the center, he visited several hospitals in the Boston area and was diagnosed with stage four gastric cancer that had spread to his lymph nodes and liver. He was told he had only 4 to 12 months to live, and to prepare his personal papers. He felt like a statistic.

    A personal approach to cancer treatment

    Eastman was treated differently at The Comprehensive Cancer Center. He says that after meeting with several physicians, he was "impressed by their professional reputation, caring manner and approach to treating my cancer." They moved quickly to begin his treatment, paying attention not only to the cancer as a disease, but also to Eastman as a patient.

    Howard Safran, MD, a hematologist and oncologist at Rhode Island Hospital who is nationally recognized for his innovative treatment approaches to upper gastrointestinal cancers, entered Eastman into an aggressive clinical trial through the Brown University Oncology Group. During the trial, Eastman's cancer decreased enough in size to allow surgery. After the surgery had been completed, Eastman entered a second clinical trial for chemotherapy and radiation while he continued to be monitored at the Comprehensive Cancer Center. Safran, Thomas DiPetrillo, MD, David Iannitti, MD, and the caring staff at the center have helped change Eastman's outlook. "Rather than a future of despair, I have a future of hope," he says.

    Small state, many options

    "You don't have to leave Rhode Island to receive cutting-edge medical care," Eastman says. Rhode Island patients are able to navigate the medical system with relative ease while taking advantage of advanced medical technology and caring physicians.

    Prior to being diagnosed with gastric cancer, Eastman tested positive for Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori), a bacterium associated with stomach ulcers and gastric cancer. In the future, those who suffer from gastric cancer may benefit from research currently being conducted by Steven Moss, MD, on H. pylori and gastric cancer, just as Eastman was able to benefit from the research that came before him. With support from the Center for Cancer Research Development, Moss has been researching the link between a protein named p27 and H. pylori, the bacteria associated with stomach ulcers and gastric cancer. He is also working on a vaccine to combat H. pylori.

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